DBT: The Emotional Mind, the Rational Mind, and the Wise Mind
What is emotional mind?
How many times you have heard that women are highly emotional beings? Do you know a person who is mostly reactive? Have you ever been impulsive? These may all sound familiar to you as we all deal with these situations from time to time, either through personal experience or with loved ones.
Most of the time, the common assumption is that acting on emotions is bad and not socially accepted. To some extent, this is true. An example of this would be when we buy the latest technological device without thinking whether we can afford it. This impulsivity is the behaviour that has resulted from our emotional mind. However, being in emotional mind is not always bad. For example, love is one of the most highly valued emotions that also originates from our emotional mind. In fact, emotional mind has served us a purpose since the time of evolution. For instance, when you see a grizzly bear, you rarely engage in thought processes but instead you immediately run for your safety. Here, fear motivates our behaviour and it is part of our human survival. Nevertheless, there are times that we engage in evaluating the pros and cons of our actions before we proceed; that is when we use our rational mind.
What is rational mind?
Rational mind, as the name sounds, is our reasonable self who guides us by weighing costs and benefits of a situation. For example, going for groceries after work because the store is five minutes away from workplace might be a rational decision. It shows our ability as humans and how we think, plan, and organize our behaviours in a way that can be beneficial to us.
In today’s world, being rational is a highly-valued characteristic. We often admire individuals who are able to present their rational self rather than their emotional self. Despite that, rationality comes with its own flaws. For example, have you ever encountered someone whom you did not like and you described him or her as “cold”? Maybe the person was in rational mind when they met you, and as result you could not feel an emotional connection with them. On the other hand, you might have met someone who seemed to be nice, friendly, and “warm.” The person was perhaps displaying some of his/her emotions while using their rational mind. In this case, when both emotional mind and rational mind are in great harmony, that is called wise mind.
What is wise mind?
I would like you to imagine a marriage between rational mind and emotional mind, and the wise mind would be the child. In other words, a wise mind is the one that takes the best of the two worlds, the emotional mind and the rational mind, and bring them together in a dialectical point or balance. A wise mind is when both your heart and mind are in congruence, and they are not in state of conflict with one another. Have you ever pursued a dream that felt right to you? Or, have you entered a relationship that seemed right and loving at the same time? All can be as result of the wise mind.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a model of psychotherapy that helps individuals who struggle with emotional mind and the consequencing actions. It helps clients develop better understanding of their emotions and learn ways to manage and regulate them. It gives clients a sense of control to what they feel and how they feel, as well as when and how it is appropriate to express. If you are a person struggling with these circumstances daily, book an appointment with your therapist and discuss your options of how you could benefit from DBT’s emotional regulation.
Khobi Attai, MA, draws from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy in her counselling, as well as a variety of other modalities. For more information on Khobi and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.